Review: Diet Pepsi Max

Back in February, Pepsi announced a new version of their flagship Diet Pepsi brand. (And later released “research” to support it.) The name? Diet Pepsi Max.

Diet Pepsi Max

A couple things are different about this drink. Right off the bat, you’ll note that the hook phrase used in the packaging is “Invigorating Cola.” What does that mean? Well, it comes with extra caffeine for one thing. 5.75 mg per ounce vs. regular Diet Pepsi’s 3 mg per ounce. Then it has “a touch of ginseng,” which is supposed to “wake up your body and mind.” Ginseng is found in many energy drinks, as it serves as a stimulant. Technically, the ingredient listed on the bottle is “panax ginseng extract.”

The other notable change with Diet Pepsi Max is the break away from using aspartame as the sole artificial sweetener, which has always the case with Diet Pepsi. Instead, we have the combination of both aspartame and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) — just like the popular Coca-Cola Zero line, which may be the target of this product.

Diet Pepsi Branding - Official Image

Previous Diet Pepsi packaging
(Source: PepsiCo)

The packaging design also shares a similar attribute with the Coke Zero world… it seems to be targeted at males. Very slick and aggressive packaging that contrasts with the typical appearance of a “diet soda.” Also of note is the new bottle design used. The “Pepsi Globe” is imprinted in the top portion of the bottle, along with a new wavy pattern. This no doubt is part of the packaging relaunch of Diet Pepsi, which brought a redesign to all their packaging.

Diet Pepsi - Official Image

New Design: Diet Pepsi
(Source: PepsiCo)

Caffeine Diet Pepsi - Official Image

New Design: Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi
(Source: PepsiCo)

Some don’t like the new look, but I think it’s pretty fresh and distinctive. Pepsi’s press release about the redesign notes that “Diet Pepsi’s graphic makeover features a striking blue and silver design and a bold new “diet” font and logo that jump right off the can. It’s a modern, slightly more masculine look that helps the brand appeal to emerging Diet Pepsi drinkers from Generation X while staying true to its loyal fans of all ages.” [Emphasis mine]

Diet Pepsi Font - Official Image

Note how the word “Diet” is spelled on both bottles… same font
(Source: PepsiCo)

You’ll note the same “diet” font is used on the Diet Pepsi redesign and on Diet Pepsi Max.

Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry - Official Image

New Design: Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry
(Source: PepsiCo)

Diet Pepsi Lime - Official Image

New Design: Diet Pepsi Lime
(Source: PepsiCo)

Diet Pepsi Vanilla - Official Image

New Design: Diet Pepsi Vanilla
(Source: PepsiCo)

Upon opening the bottle, I’d say that it smelled like a diet drink… whatever that means. It just did. And the taste? Well, it’s a diet drink, so it tastes like a diet drink. (Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of diet soda, but at the same time I don’t mind the taste of aspartame-sweetened Crystal Light drink mix.) There is a noticeable diet aftertaste, but like other aspartame/Ace-K combination drinks, it’s not too bad. It’s definitely more tolerable than standard Diet Pepsi.

After drinking it, do I feel invigorated? No. Would I drink it again? Potentially.

In closing, one wonders what the future holds for Pepsi One, which uses the sweetener combination of aspartame and sucralose (i.e. Splenda). Will both remain on the market? Will the Diet Pepsi Jazz series continue? (Diet Pepsi Jazz Black Cherry French Vanilla, Diet Pepsi Jazz Strawberries & Cream, & Diet Pepsi Jazz Caramel Cream) It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these diet beverages survive. Diet Pepsi Max further complicated the situation.

If nothing else, this might be just a backdoor attempt to relaunch Diet Pepsi with a new sweetener combination — similar to what Coke is doing with Diet Coke Plus — all under the guise of adding nutrients and energy-drink elements. Look beyond the gimmicks for the real story here.